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South Queensferry, Hawes Pier (120)

Current Priority
Low
East
313635
North
678515
Site Type
Pier/Slipway
Period
19th Century

The pier is situated at the east end of Queensferry Promenade. The stone pier is in good condition and used by the RNLI.

[Edit:] The Hawes Pier was constructed c.1812 by Scottish civil engineer John Rennie, probably in collaboration with Robert Stevenson. It is located in a small area previously known as Newhalls, but now incorporated into South Queensferry. It was built as part of a plan to improve the ferry crossing between North and South Queensferry, building or upgrading piers, facilities and access roads on both sides, using public and private finances. Hawes Pier was used regularly for the ferry, which took passengers and cargo across the river until the opening of the Forth Road Bridge in 1964 ended the service.

The pier is a category C listed building, while a lighthouse built on its southern end is a category B listed building. It is c.285m in length, c.25m wide, and is shaped like a slipway, sloping down into the Forth so that up to c.75% of the pier is underwater at high tide. This allows at least part of the pier to be usable at all times. There is a wall of c.2m in height which divides much of the pier down the middle, with a few breaks to allow passage to either side. There is a fixed beacon at its northern end, while a disused sandstone hexagonal lighthouse was built near the southern end. Modern buildings, including the RNLI station, are grouped in the southern area, almost covering the area above HWM.

The pier is still in regular use, notably by leisure boats which offer tours of the Forth and take visitors to Inchcolm Island from April to October; a 20th century building houses the office, ticket desk and shop associated with this. The RNLI operates one of Scotland's busiest stations from buildings on the pier, rescuing more people than any other inshore lifeboat crew. They have a new building on the pier which was finished in 2012. Staff for the nearby Hound Point oil terminal use the Hawes Pier, and one of the companies associated with the terminal maintains an office in a modern building on the pier itself. Occasionally, visiting cruise liners anchored in the Forth ferry their passengers to and from the Hawes Pier on small boats.

The pier is in good condition although it has needed repairs to keep it so. It is owned and managed by Edinburgh Council.

Condition and current recommendations:

Condition
Good
Action
None

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Record NT 17 NW 172 on map 5 in Coastal Assessment Survey: The Firth of Forth, 1996

Other records:

NMRS
50550
SMR
Unknown

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21st March, 2014 by Laurens
Survey Information
User:
Laurens
Date:
March 21, 2014
Tidal state:
mid
Site located?:
Yes
Condition Information
Proximity to coast edge:
intertidal
Coastally eroding?:
active sea erosion; has eroded in the past
Is there a coastal defence?:
no
Other threats?:
structural damage/decay
Description:

The pier is situated at the east end of Queensferry Promenade. The stone pier is in good condition and used by the RNLI.

[Edit:] The Hawes Pier was constructed c.1812 by Scottish civil engineer John Rennie, probably in collaboration with Robert Stevenson. It is located in a small area previously known as Newhalls, but now incorporated into South Queensferry. It was built as part of a plan to improve the ferry crossing between North and South Queensferry, building or upgrading piers, facilities and access roads on both sides, using public and private finances. Hawes Pier was used regularly for the ferry, which took passengers and cargo across the river until the opening of the Forth Road Bridge in 1964 ended the service.

The pier is a category C listed building, while a lighthouse built on its southern end is a category B listed building. It is c.285m in length, c.25m wide, and is shaped like a slipway, sloping down into the Forth so that up to c.75% of the pier is underwater at high tide. This allows at least part of the pier to be usable at all times. There is a wall of c.2m in height which divides much of the pier down the middle, with a few breaks to allow passage to either side. There is a fixed beacon at its northern end, while a disused sandstone hexagonal lighthouse was built near the southern end. Modern buildings, including the RNLI station, are grouped in the southern area, almost covering the area above HWM.

The pier is still in regular use, notably by leisure boats which offer tours of the Forth and take visitors to Inchcolm Island from April to October; a 20th century building houses the office, ticket desk and shop associated with this. The RNLI operates one of Scotland's busiest stations from buildings on the pier, rescuing more people than any other inshore lifeboat crew. They have a new building on the pier which was finished in 2012. Staff for the nearby Hound Point oil terminal use the Hawes Pier, and one of the companies associated with the terminal maintains an office in a modern building on the pier itself. Occasionally, visiting cruise liners anchored in the Forth ferry their passengers to and from the Hawes Pier on small boats.

The pier is in good condition although it has needed repairs to keep it so. It is owned and managed by Edinburgh Council.

Management Information
How visible are the remains? (above ground):
highly visible (substantial remains)
How accessibile is the site?:
easily accessible- no restrictions; accessible on foot (footpath); vehicular access
The site is:
is well known; is well visited; has local associations/history
Comments and recommendations
Comments:

The Hawes Pier is an important part of local history, and is generally known through its connection to the old ferry crossing. It is also mentioned in relation to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, Kidnapped (the pier being the location of the titular kidnapping). I believe it is less well known that it was built by John Rennie and Robert Stevenson (of Bell Rock fame, and grandfather of the author mentioned above), two of the foremost Scottish civil engineers of their day.

It is visited by large numbers of people, both locals and visitors. In the latter case, this is particularly because the largest car park used by cars, bikers, and bus tours runs along the the promenade next to the pier. Especially on weekends, the area around it can be very busy with tourists.

The masonry appears in generally good condition with apparent repairs made in places of various ages, some made with stone and others with concrete. The pier is subject to strong tidal flows and still seems to require repair works according to the Edinburgh Council website. Structural damage is therefore an active threat, and is being managed with apparent success in terms of the pier's stability, although original stonework is presumably at risk of loss, both from damage and through repair work.

Modern buildings have been added to the pier into modern times, most recently the new RNLI station finished in 2012. No new structures of this sort are likely to be added, as there is no more room above HWM.

Recommendations:

Unlikely to be a priority, but for architectural history purposes it may be of interest to survey parts of the structure which could be damaged by the sea, or covered over by concrete repairs such as have been made in the past.